I’m back from a
I didn’t have my easel as we’d decided to travel light and only come with hand luggage (which was fantastic!). So I sat, with paper on a small board resting against a table, and got to work. I had to apply the soft pastel quickly as the light was changing and clouds were coming in!
The pastels I’d brought with me were a small box of 30 half sticks by Sennelier. This was part of an award I’d received at a Pastel Artists Canada (PAC) exhibition and I’d yet to try them. The box was small and light – just what I needed. However, I didn’t take time to look over the assortment and so I was in for a bit of a shock…
Let me take you through the progress of this piece. I only got so far working en plein air. It just didn’t feel complete so I worked on it back in my home studio. I continued with pastels from the set of 30 Sennelier box, choosing not to take the easy route and find colours I really needed! The limitations of the pastel selection definitely played into the outcome.
Here’s my thumbnail. I decided to include the small hot water heater as it’s such a part of backyard life in this village. I liked the ordinariness of it, and how it works as part of the composition.
I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on the charcoal drawing as I knew things would shift as I progressed in pastel.
(The iPhone photos are a bit dark as I was sitting in the shade of a palapa!)
I decided not to do all the areas of middle value in the same colour as I often do. Much of this area is covered with the blue but I decided I also wanted to get the warm colours of two towels in right away.
You can see the place I deviated from the value plan is in the sky. As I worked, I realised the set has no light blue! I chose not to apply the yellow I’d used in the other light areas for two reasons: the first being if I covered the yellow colour with any kind of blue, it would turn quite green and second, there would be no light blue available to help alleviate the greenness. Better to cover the area with mid-value blue then add a layer of whatever very light colour I chose to use.
Some of the troubles I ran into with the set of 30 pastels was that there were certain colours missing and in certain values. For instance, as I’ve said, there’s no light blue in the set so, for the sky, I used a very light green layered over the mid-value blue to lighten it. It still ended up being closer to a mid-value than the light value I had originally planned.
Sometimes these type of constrictions can bring up amazing possibilities but often times, it’s just frustrating and offers mud-making opportunities! Here though, the mid-value sky helps to show-up the light-value wall.
That was it for work en plein air. The clouds moved in and all the glorious light and shadow disappeared.
Once home, I opened up the pastel to have a look. I liked the brightness of it and decided I wanted to emphasize the warmth even more.
I got frustrated with the lack of light blue pastel! I wanted parts of the wall to look darker and although I did have an ochre sort of colour, I wanted to add the dynamism of non-yellow colours. So I tried the mid-value blue on top. Ugh – mud! Mixing colours of different values is a recipe for making the proverbial “mud”! But I just had to try since my choices were so limited.
I warmed up the hot water heater and solidified the yellow wall beneath it. Then I worked on the beach towels on the clothesline. I looked at a few of the photos I had taken of the blowing towels and chose a couple of towel shapes from them.
Eek!!! It’s beginning to take on a muddy-ish look!! Can I save it?
I’ve pretty much decided on the pattern of the cast shadows made by the beach towels on the clothesline. But the rest of the cast shadows from the plants and trees overhead are giving me a headache!
I decided that the saturated colours and lightness seen through the portal opening on the left were too bright, attracting too much attention, so I darkened and dulled much of it. I also simplified it to put the emphasis back on the beach towels on the clothesline.
I decided to darken the wall below the hot water heater as I felt it was taking attention away from the towels on the line. I added more of a pattern on the black dress to give it a bit more interest. I went over the sky area to give it more ‘blueness’. I shortened the hot water heater shelf so it wouldn’t butt into the tree.
I added more highlights to the beach towels and I added some of the red colours into the cast shadows to include those colours in more areas of the painting.
Final tweaking and it’s done! I tried to increase the movement of the beach towels on the clothesline by breaking their edges in places. I did the same with their cast shadows.
Deciding that I didn’t like the
I was bothered by the way the end of the highest banana leaf looked and so changed it to a more blunt end.
That’s it! I thought and signed the piece. Then I realised I hadn’t added the colourful clothespins!! Duh! I used colours from the pastels I’d already used although I was tempted to dip into the Sennelier box for others 🙂
So that’s one of my paintings from my getaway in La Manzanilla, Mexico. I’d love to hear if you learnt anything going through this process with me. Let me know something that stands out, either in the process or in the painting itself.
And that’s all for now! Until next time,